Senior NCO Lauds Growing Philippine Enlisted Professionalism
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
MANILA, Philippines, July 16, 2012 Saluting the growing professionalism of the Philippine military’s noncommissioned officer corps, U.S. Pacific Command’s senior enlisted advisor encouraged students at the sergeants major academy here to embrace opportunities opening to them and to become engines for continued progress.
Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer Mark W. Rudes, traveling in the Philippines with Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the Pacom commander, spoke today with 64 Philippine NCOs slated to graduate this week from the country’s top joint-service academy.
Rudes noted growing recognition within the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other advanced militaries around the world that “the noncommissioned officer is the backbone of your success as a military.”
But it’s a principle, he acknowledged, that has gained acceptance more quickly in some countries’ officer corps than others. Rudes challenged the next generation of senior Philippine NCOs to take advantage of the changing mindset within their military as they apply their strengths and talents to help their military advance.
“You are going to find that your up-and-coming junior officers are learning an awful lot about what capability a professional NCO corps brings to the military,” he told the class.
After office calls today with Marine Sgt. Maj. Edilberto Lustre, the AFP’s senior NCO, and Navy Capt. Allan Rusal, chief of staff of the Command and General Staff College, Rudes said he’s encouraged to learn that mid-range and senior officers, too, are enthusiastic about the potential this offers.
“Many of you are in a position now where you are going to see the fruits of that kind of thought process, because [officers] are going to increasingly turn to you and draw on your ideas and your capabilities,” Rudes told the NCOs. “I think that you are going to see that your officer corps is going to slowly start utilizing you in the capacity that you are being trained in.”
That’s particularly important now, he said, as the AFP transforms from an internally directed and largely army-centric force. In support of its enhanced maritime security focus, the decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas recently joined the Philippine navy.
“Now that you are starting to look outward at maritime threats and external threats, as opposed to inward, it is going to open up new opportunities,” Rudes said.
He reminded them of the important role they will play in this transition, encouraging them to take charge of key areas such as maintenance and the training that must underpin it.
“Hopefully you can take some of the skills you have learned in this school setting as you go to the field, the deck plates, the air strips … and use that to advance to the next level,” he said.
As they do so, Rudes encouraged the class members to seek out opportunities to exercise and train with their U.S. allies.
U.S. military training and education programs all recognize the role of NCOs, Rudes said.
“If you want to advance your military to the next level,” he added, “you absolutely need to empower your NCO corps and professionalize your noncommissioned officers so you can raise that overall bar.”
Although the U.S. has always held its NCO corps in esteem, Rudes told the class it’s only more recently begun to tap into its full capability. “I will tell you, in my time in service, our [military] has really turned to and tasked the NCO corps to take on an awful lot more of a leadership role in strategy development and changing our military’s ways of training, managing and equipping so we can be more efficient and more effective,” he said.
That capability, he said, comes primarily through the core NCO mission of taking care of people and developing their skills and leadership potential.
“It is not necessarily doing things for them,” Rudes emphasized. “You are challenging your soldiers, your marines, your sailors, your airmen to make the most of their time and their service with you. And in doing so, you are also looking out for their interests to remove obstacles, communicate with them and show them that they can become successful.”
Sharing his own experience, Rudes urged the Philippine NCOs to measure their own success through that of the service members they lead.
“I don’t need anybody to tell me I am doing a good job. I don’t need anybody to give me an award or recognize me in some way,” he told them. “I just look back at the sailors that I have had the privilege to be in charge of. And if they have succeeded in accomplishing the things that they need to, that, to me, is success.”